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Del Castillo and Toral Named to Bragan Slugger Award Watch List

by David Villavicencio

FORT WORTH, Texas – Two of the University of Miami’s top hitters have earned spots on the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award Watch List, as announced Wednesday by the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation.

Miami stars Adrian Del Castillo and Alex Toral were among the 48 players named to the watch list for the 2021 college baseball season.

“The Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award Watch List presented by SR Bats is not only loaded this year but has a somewhat unique look,” said Tracy Taylor, Executive Director of the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award and the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation. “The abrupt ending of the 2020 season, the shortened MLB Draft, and an extra season of eligibility have all changed some of the dynamics of the watch list from previous years.  The watch list has traditionally been dominated by juniors, but this year we have more seniors than ever before and they headline an outstanding list for 2021 that has garnered more than 80 All-American and All-Conference honors.”

The Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award (BBCSA) presented by SR Bats is based on performance at the plate, academics and personal integrity. The 48 players on the watch list represent 17 conferences around the country, including all five power conferences. The complete watch list can be viewed HERE.

“We received a record number of nominations for the award than ever before and the recognition on the field is only surpassed by the recognition in the classroom,” Taylor said. “This year we have eight student-athletes who have already finished their degrees and are pursuing postgraduate studies as well as multiple underclassmen that are on their conference and school honor rolls.”

Del Castillo and Toral are two of the premier hitters in college baseball and they enter the 2021 season as two of the most decorated bats in Division I. Both players were named to Baseball America’s Preseason All-America first team, making the Hurricanes one of two programs with two such honorees.

Del Castillo added his fourth first-team recognition ahead of the upcoming season, as the third-year player was also named to the first-team by D1 Baseball, Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game. Toral also garnered his fourth preseason accolade, adding this first-team distinction to second-team honors by both Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game and a third-team selection by D1 Baseball. Toral is one of four players to repeat as Baseball America preseason All-Americans, as he was voted to the third team in 2020.

One of the best hitters in America, Del Castillo is considered among the top prospects in the 2021 MLB Draft class. The third-year catcher has been a machine at the plate in his two years at The U, hitting .336 with 24 doubles, 14 home runs and 87 RBI over 77 games played. In a 16-game shortened season a year ago, Del Castillo led the Hurricanes with a .358 batting average and was tied for the team lead in runs scored (13) and hits (19), while his 15 RBI tied for second on the club.

A 2020 Preseason All-American by four different publications, Del Castillo was an offensive juggernaut in his debut season with the Canes. The standout finished the 2019 campaign batting .331 with 78 hits, 22 doubles and 72 RBI, all team-bests. The Miami native also scored 58 runs and clubbed 12 homers, while striking out just 24 times in 236 at-bats. A versatile player who saw time in right field, catcher, designated hitter and third base, he tied for the team lead with 22 multi-hit games and was second on the team with 18 multi-RBI performances.

Del Castillo’s 72 RBI were the second-most by a UM freshman in program history, finishing just four shy of Ryan Braun’s record 76, set in 2003. The 72 runs batted in were also the most by a Miami freshman since Yonder Alonso drove in 69 as a freshman in 2006. His 18 multi-RBI games were the most by a Hurricane freshman since Zack Collins posted 15 in 2014. A Freshman All-America selection by four publications, Del Castillo earned a host of awards after his collegiate debut season, including Second Team All-ACC, ACC All-Freshman Team, ABCA All-Region and All-Starkville Regional Team honors.

Already one of the top power hitters in the nation a year ago, Toral brings his big bat back to the heart of Miami’s lineup after leading the team with five home runs and 16 RBI in 16 games a year ago. The fourth-year junior posted a .296 batting average in 2020, while leading the team with a.593 slugging percentage and was second on the Canes with .435 on-base percentage.

Toral flexed his muscles at the plate in 2019 for the Canes, hitting an ACC-leading 24 home runs that ranked third in Division I and helped propel Miami to a conference-high 85 homers on the year. The herculean first baseman’s 24 homers moved him into a tie with Yonder Alonso for the second-most home runs by a Hurricane in a single season.

In addition to his prolific power numbers, Toral hit .293 with six doubles, 47 runs scored and 67 RBI. The Davie, Fla., native’s 19 multi-RBI games led the Canes and he also posted 15 multi-hit performances. An outstanding performance in his first NCAA tournament earned Toral a spot on the 2019 All-Starkville Regional Team.

The BBCSA originally started out in 2017 as an honor going to the top college hitter in Texas.  In 2019, the BBCSA expanded becoming a regional award covering Division I programs in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Last year, the BBCSA became a national award; however, no winner was announced due to the COVID-19 virus that cut the college baseball season short.

The winner of the BBCSA will be announced in June and honored at a gala in the fall at the Fort Worth Club. Texas Tech’s Hunter Hargrove won the initial BBCSA in 2017.  Dallas Baptist’s Devlin Granberg took home the honor in 2018, with Texas Tech’s Josh Jung winning the award in 2019.

Fans can follow news about the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award presented by SR Bats and its Player of the Week honorees during the season at www.braganslugger.com.